Protect Disability Benefits (SSDI) From Trump Budget Cuts

Saturday, June 10

(Adapted from 5 Calls)

Protect Disability Benefits (SSDI) From Trump Budget Cuts

During his campaign, Trump made repeated promises to preserve Social Security benefits. Despite these promises, his 2018 budget proposal recommends cutting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments to disabled workers by $72 billion over the next 10 years.

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Trump's administration argues that SSDI budget cuts will address wasteful and fraudulent access to these benefits. However, SSDI applicants must meet a host of eligibilty criteria to qualify for benefits. They must have worked a set number of years, have accumulated Social Security credits, and be under the age of 65. SSDI benefits are not overly generous (the US places 30th out of 34 peer countries for this type of benefit), nor are they easy to access - 60% of applications are denied. Despite these hurdles, there are nearly 9 million disabled workers currently receiving benefits; for 80% of beneficiaries, SSDI is their sole source of income.

These proposed SSDI cuts, particularly if combined with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and budget cuts to Medicaid, would devastate millions of Americans who are already struggling to stay afloat in the face of health issues and economic insecurity.

The House and Senate Budget Committees will use Trump's budget proposal as guidance when finalizing their own budget recommendations. Constituents must make it clear to our members of Congress that SSDI and other social safety net programs represent our core values of supporting those most in need, and must not be eliminated in order to provide tax breaks to corporations and the most wealthy Americans.

Action You Can Take Today

Call Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and let them know you care about protecting the vulnerable.

[Script]

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [TOWN].

I’m calling today because I’m strongly opposed to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cuts proposed by Trump - millions of Americans benefit from this important program. I ask that Senator [Schumer / Gillibrand] strongly oppose cutting the SSDI budget and continue to support this and other critical social safety net programs.

OPTIONAL: Share story of how you or someone you know benefited from SSDI

Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]


Tell Sen. McConnell: Private Meetings On AHCA Are Wrong

Friday, June 9th

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

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Rather than hosting open discussions and gathering expert testimony, Senator Mitch McConnell is trying to push the AHCA ahead through closed-door meetings with fellow GOP members. (Read more: http://nbcnews.to/2qWJses

Action You Can Take Today


Comey Testifies: Ways to Watch

Thursday, June 8th

(Adapted from Rogan's List, Variety, and other sources)

 James Comey

For those who can watch, former FBI Director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. The LA Times has a helpful synopsis on the events that have led up to this hearing, as well as what to expect from the hearing itself: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-what-to-know-comey-20170606-htmlstory.html

All of the cable news networks will carry the hearing live, while the broadcast networks will air Comey’s testimony during their morning shows.

Some TV Networks Prepare to Offer Comey Testimony Without Commercials

Most of the networks will be streaming coverage on their respective news websites and apps.

Viewers can also watch the hearing unfold via Twitter, via the platform’s partnership with Bloomberg News

 


Tell Congress: Vote NO on HR 10 (Financial Choice Act)

Wednesday, June 6th

Don't Allow Congress to Gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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As reported today by NBC News:


Republicans in Congress are focused on eliminating regulations — including many put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act following the financial crisis that peaked in 2008. The Financial CHOICE Act, which passed the House Financial Services Committee on a 34-26 party line vote last week, is the first attempt to do that. The CHOICE Act would do more than reduce financial regulations enacted under the Obama administration. It also targets the CFPB, the regulatory agency created by Dodd-Frank to police the financial marketplace. Among other things, the bill would:

  1. Strip away the agency’s authority to regulate large banks and payday lenders
  2. Remove its power to prosecute companies that engage in unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices
  3. Eliminate independent funding from the Federal Reserve Bank and give Congress the power to set the CFPB’s budget
  4. Allow Congress to kill any major financial rules proposed by the agency; both houses would have to give their approval within 60 days
  5. Stop public access to the CFPB’s database of more than 1.1 million consumer complaints.

Consumer advocates argue that the bill would cripple the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers and give special interest groups a way to influence regulation of the financial system through the congressional appropriations and approval process.

“The bill neuters the CFPB and would leave consumers more vulnerable to financial scams, hidden fees and costly gotchas that can undermine their financial security,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union (CU), the policy arm of Consumer Reports. CU has launched a petition campaign to kill the bill.

The House vote on the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R 10) is this week.  The act would relieve retirement advisors of any obligation to put  clients' interests first; it would restrict the right of customers ripped off by banks (think Wells Fargo) to go to court by demanding forced arbitration; it would gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Action You Can Take Today

Public Citizen urges us to contact our Representatives immediately. Visit http://action.citizen.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13526 and our own info page for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-19).

Bonus Action: Take a moment to visit the CFPB website - tons of interesting information there!


Three Actions on Ethics Investigations

Today, a smorgasbord of actions on ethics investigations.

  1. Attack on the press corps: “A national coalition of press groups urged a congressional ethics panel on Friday to consider disciplinary action against Montana's newly elected congressman, who is charged with throwing a reporter to the ground during a confrontation a day before the election.”  (Read more.)

    Write to the Office of Congressional Ethics and tell them that you agree and want a recommendation sent to the House Ethics Committee to enforce disciplining Rep. Gianforte.  We cannot normalize our legislators as assaulters.  Contact them here:  https://oce.house.gov/contact-us/.

  2. Private prison profits, Trump and Sessions: GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the private prison company GEO Group, donated to a pro-Trump super PAC during the 2016 election; a move which was arguably illegal, as federal contractors cannot make political donations (Read more). 

    A complaint was filed in November of 2016 by the Campaign Legal Group, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog, yet there seems to be no word of any progress being made since the filing. The GEO Group stands to profit immensely through the Trump Administration, with Jeff Sessions' reinstatement of the "War on Drugs" where people will be convicted and placed in prison for lesser crimes, ICE's rounding up of immigrants to be placed in detention facilities, and Trump's stated focus on "law and order."  Remember also that when Trump was elected, stocks in private prison companies surged on the expectation that Trump would rescind the Obama administration's decision to phase out use of private prisons, paving the way for more private prison profits. (Read more.)

    Send a message to the Federal Elections Commission that you expect them to follow through on Campaign Legal Group's complaint, and investigate the GEO Group. Email them at info@fec.gov and then sign Color of Change's petition to the FEC Commissioners: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/no-pay-for-play/

  3. Deflection on Russia: In a very unconventional move, “White House press aides since (last) Tuesday have been directing all reporters asking about any of the (Russia) probes to contact the president’s New York-based outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz.” In doing so, “They’re saying both that the government is no longer responsible for addressing these issues and someone who the president pays privately is. That’s new territory.” (Read more.)

    Tell the Office of Government Ethics that you do not think this is appropriate.

    Contact them here: https://www.oge.gov/web/oge.nsf/Organization/Contact%20Us?opendocument



Sunday Dose of Small Victories

Sunday, June 4th

(Adapted from Peace Is Loud)

On this day of rest and reflection, take a look at some small (and not so small) victories from this difficult week.

At home, on Thursday the Philipstown Town Board voted to sign on to "adopting the Climate Smart Community Pledge. Our town will join 192 other New York communities (comprising a third of the state's population) who have partnered with the New York State government to build a resilient, low- emission future." To learn more, take a look at the Climate Smart Communities Guide to Local Action.

The Town will be forming an advisory committee to help us move forward, and anyone who would like to volunteer to be on that committee can send an email to townclerk@philipstown.com.

When Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, people immediately mobilized...

...and pretty much the entire world will continue to take action against climate change:

  • India canceled the creation of huge coal power stations, moving instead toward more affordable solar energy—and announced plans to allow the sale of only electric cars by 2030.
  • South Korea is beginning to shut down coal power plants, in a move to combat pollution.
  • Shareholders approved a proposal for ExxonMobil to report on climate change-related risks, despite management’s recommendation to vote against it.

 

Find more small victories here: http://www.peaceisloud.org/blog/small-victories-issue-22


Climate Change is Real: Tell Pruitt, Perry, Tillerson & Trump to Keep the Paris Climate Promise

Wednesday, May 31st

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

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Amidst the health care madness, the budget madness and the investigation of collusion with Russia madness, things are tilting the wrong way on our participation in the Paris climate change agreement (Read more.)

Please reach out to EPA Chief Pruitt (who wants to break the agreement):  Pruitt.scott@epa.gov and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (who wants revision)  The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (who wants to stay in the agreement) https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform.  

Tell them we have no choice but to continue to work against climate change. 

And though it may make no difference, because he can't remember what he thinks about anything for more than ten seconds at a time, tell Trump to keep us in the Paris Climate Agreement:  https://secure3.convio.net/lcv/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=3811&autologin=true.

Thank you.


Tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Your Drug Policies Take Us Backward

Tuesday, May 30th

(Adapted from ACLU Action)

Sessions War on Drugs Memo

JEFF SESSIONS IS WRONG ABOUT THE WAR ON DRUGS

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is spouting rhetoric and promoting policies that we’ve been working hard to put in the past. With near-consensus that the War on Drugs was a failure on all levels, the country is ready to move to smart and commonsense reforms to our broken criminal justice system.

Except for one man: our top law enforcement official, Jeff Sessions.

Sessions has reversed an important charging policy that instructed prosecutors to avoid getting caught in the stranglehold of mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimums are widely understood as racist, destructive to families and communities, and fundamentally unfair. So why is our attorney general actively undoing policy in order to encourage the harshest possible punishments?

Jeff Sessions has a history of endorsing ineffective policies and positions based on political rhetoric. He wants to put as many people as possible behind bars. And not just anyone – the War on Drugs policies Sessions is rolling out target and harm Black and Brown people and communities.

This has to end. We need smart criminal justice reforms – not regressive, recycled policies.

Action You Can Take Today


Speak Out About Domestic Terrorism

Monday, May 29th

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

While the Trump administration continues to support a crackdown on “dangerous” immigrants, and is going so far as to appeal a ruling to the Supreme Court, what is it doing about the homegrown danger of extremism?

Far right, white supremacists continue to be the real terror base for our country. Three of our citizens were killed by white supremacists last week alone and there was nary a word from the White House: 

http://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2017/05/27/19041594/suspect-in-portland-hate-crime-murders-is-a-known-white-supremacist

and

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/page/ct-richard-collins-stabbing-racism-page-perspec-20170526-story.html

Let’s tell our Members of Congress and the White House that it is past time to reel in these terrorists and investigate their wide-spread radicalization for the safety of all of us.  

 


Take a Day to Read and Think

Sunday, May 28th

(Adapted from Jen Hofmann's Weekly Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience)

Memorial Day Weekend Recommended Reading

Thought-provoking, in-depth reading that’s worth your time. 

  • What the US needs to have a healthy healthcare system (HBR).

  • How 45 might successfully wiggle out of special counsel’s scrutiny (Reuters).

  • Long game: The true impact of activism isn’t felt for a generation (Guardian).

  • Stay woke and share far-left conspiracy theories with caution (Vox).

 Please keep taking care of yourself. Your wellness matters as much as your activism.

 


Get Your Facts Straight, Mr. President

Saturday, May 27th

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

Embarrassment in Europe

Trump embarrassed the American people at the NATO conference and then went on to call the Germans, one of our strongest allies, evil.  "Trump’s singling out of German carmakers for contributing to the nation’s lopsided trade surplus follows rebukes of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp.and attacks on America’s own automakers for shipping cars from Mexico. The rhetoric overlooks that BMW AG, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG operate some of their biggest factories in the world in southern U.S. states, and the impact that putting a stop to imports would have on the thousands of dealers who sell German vehicles." (Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-26/trump-blasts-german-carmakers-u-s-sales-and-threatens-barriers

Action You Can Take Today

Let's call the White House and let Trump know, we care about our German allies and that many German car makers build their cars here and American dealerships sell them providing jobs to Americans.  

Contact the White House here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact


Tell Advertisers: Stop Supporting Sean Hannity's Nonsense

Friday, May 26th

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

Sean Hannity's recent conspiracy theories and hate speech have rallied a call for a boycott of his advertisers.  

As reported last night by Rob Tornoe:"Despite the retraction and pleas from Rich's parents to stop peddling a conspiracy theory about their son that had been discredited by SnopesFactcheck.org, Poynter, and numerous news agencies  Hannity defiantly pushed the theory on his radio show before agreeing to drop it "for now" on his Fox News program."

Maybe Hannity's vacation can become permanent, like his friend Bill O'Reilly's.  

Action You Can Take Today

Contact 10 of Hannity's primary advertisers via email and postcards.  Tell them there is no place for conspiracy theories and hate speech on our airwaves.  If you want to write more, here's a complete list of his advertisers: http://ir.net/news/politics/124909/hannity-advertisers-list/.

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Alfa Romeo
1000 Alfa Romeo Dr, Auburn Hills MI 48326-2766

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Allstate
2775 Sanders Rd, Northbrook IL 60062

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Bayer
Bayer AG, 51375 Leverkusen, Germany ($1.15 postage)

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Booking.com
Division of Priceline, 800 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk CT 06954

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
3000 Hanover St, Palo Alto CA 94304-1112

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Hyundai USA
10550 Talbert Ave, Fountain Valley CA 92708

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Liberty Mutual
100 Liberty Way, Dover NH 03820

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ProFlowers/Shari's Berries
4840 Eastgate Mall, San Diego CA 92121

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Sandals c/o Unique Vacation Inc.
4950 SW 72nd Ave, Miami FL 33155
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Vanda Pharmaceuticals
2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Ste 300E, Washington DC 20037

Support the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017

Tuesday, May 23rd

(Adapted from Rogan's List)

While more states are banning so-called gay conversion therapy, which Vice President Pence supported while Governor of Indiana, it's important to bring this to a federal level, so that everyone, regardless of which state they're in, is protected from this harmful practice. (Read more from the Washington Post and NBC News).

Action You Can Take Today

Thank our Representative, Sean Patrick Maloney, for cosponsoring Rep. Ted Lieu's Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 (H.R. 2119). You can download the text of the bill here.  If you don't live in Philipstown, please contact your Representative and ask them to become a cosponsor. You can also sign CREDO Action's petition.

Website: http://seanmaloney.house.gov/

Email: https://seanmaloney.house.gov/contact/email-me

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/repseanmaloney/

Twitter: @RepSeanMaloney

Washington, DC Office: 1027 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515-3218 Phone: (202) 225-5441 · Fax: (202) 225-3289

Newburgh Office: 123 Grand Street, 2nd Floor, Newburgh, NY 12550 Phone: (845) 561-1259 · Fax: (845) 561-2890

Bonus Action:

Visit Rep. Lieu's Twitter feed (always a good read) and thank him for starting this piece of legislation:

@tedlieu


Help Elect Montana's Rob Quist to the House

Monday, May 23rd

(Adapted from Wall of Us)

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I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.

— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

In a special election on Wednesday, May 25, the Democrats hope to elect Rob Quist to fill the at large House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary.  GOP outside groups have reputedly poured more than $2.5 million into his opponent’s campaign, an opponent who it turns out has ties to Russia. (Read more)

Action You Can Take Today

1. Watch this video by Robert Reich about the Montana special election, Quist, and his swampy competitor. (2 minutes)

2. Donate any amount to support the Quist campaign in their final push. (3 minutes)

3. Phone Bank for Quist with the Democracy for America Hubdialer. (15 minutes+)


Sunday Acts of Gratitude

Sunday, May 21st

(Adapted from Jen Hofmann's Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience)

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Today's Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail. 

  1. Thank Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for suggesting penalties for Russia’s aggression.
    Address: 290 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

  2. Thank Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for calling for an independent commission or special prosecutor.

    Address (LM): 522 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
    Address (AK): 2245 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

  3. Thank Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) for defending Americans’ rights to free speech and protest, and calling for a swift response to violence by a foreign leader’s aggression.

    Address: 2310 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

  4. Thank Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) for his bipartisanship in suggesting the White House get its act together and to appoint a Democrat to lead the FBI.

    Address: 248 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510

  5. Thank Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) for putting country ahead of party by signing the discharge petition in support of releasing 45’s tax returns. I appreciate your integrity and leadership.

    Address: 2333 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515